“Cute, heartwarming and sometimes funny” – Dana Kearley’s cheerful illustrations de-stigmatize disability and chronic illness

The cheerful color palette of Disabled Teddies, helps celebrate and normalize disability imagery in the illustrative language of children’s books and cartoons – areas where disability and illness are often underrepresented or ignored. The study of color, gradient and texture always plays an important role in bringing Dana’s characters to life. She likes to place colors together “using palettes you might not commonly see, especially in nature.” The colors, music, fashion and patterns of the 80s provide him with a “gold mine” of inspiration in this regard.

When it comes to composing her ideas, Dana enjoys working in Photoshop. “I find digital illustration to be the most accessible, as I can work from the couch, the bed or the studio!” But his creative process can vary from day to day and is often “dictated” by his health. “Having multiple ways of working is necessary when you are sick and disabled,” she tells us. She has enjoyed experimenting with many mediums since childhood (drawing, painting, crafts, sewing, and jewelry making, among others) but in 2007 she began to hone her practice when she attended art school.

“When I started, I struggled to be seen by my teachers. My paintings and drawings were too ‘illustrative’ for them…but I wanted to be an illustrator, so I couldn’t see what the problem was! So Dana clung to her guts, following the example of artist Marcel Dzama, whose work oscillates between the disciplines of fine art and illustration, she continued to develop her own unique style.” This was a very slow journey, but i kept working on my art and illustrations every day, and eventually it evolved into my career. The illustration just looks natural! I love it.”

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